Discover more from The Nett Report
Carbon emissions, racism, sea otters and surfboards, hybrid work, cognitive decline
July 17, 2023 - The Nett Report
“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” - Roy T. Bennett, author of The Light in the Heart.
NASA visualization of CO2 emissions from space
The World Economic Forum has posted a stunning video developed by NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio that shows how CO2 emissions would look if we could see them from space.
Factoid: “Climate washing" litigation has risen sharply in the last two years as environmental groups and governments challenge corporate claims about their contribution to tackling climate change ... Lawyers, working on behalf of activists and others frustrated with progress in lowering greenhouse gas emissions, have filed 2,341 climate litigation cases worldwide, half of them since 2015. The majority of cases have been filed in the United States.” Reuters, June 28, 2023.
Defense contributions a blind spot in global GHG emissions
Scientists and environmental groups are pressing the United Nations to force armies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions. According to a July 10, 2023, story by Reuters, militaries account for 5.5% of global GHGs and are a blind spot in the global efforts to reduce emissions. Defense forces are not bound by international climate agreements to cut their carbon emissions because “data about energy use by armies could undermine national security.”
What states do matters when it comes to U.S. carbon emissions
A country is the sum of its subnational regions. In the U.S., the states are the subnational regions analyzed for carbon emissions from electricity generation and visualized by Hannah Ritchie in her Sustainability Matters July 6, 2023, newsletter. The slide deck she produced provides a comprehensive view of the sources and carbon intensity of electricity generation across states in the U.S.
High Ambition Coalition calls for urgent exit from fossil fuels
A July 14, 2023, article in PHYS.ORG reports that a coalition of countries that includes European Union economies and climate-vulnerable nations has said the year-end climate talks must pave the way for “an urgent and just transition to renewables, a more climate resilient world, and climate justice for all.” The countries are known as the High Ambition Coalition and released a statement signed by representatives of countries including Germany, France, and the Marshall Islands, as well as the European Commission. The statement called for greenhouse gas emissions to peak by 2025 at the latest and be cut by 43 percent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, in line with recent updates from UN climate experts.
The Political Divide
Racism continues to linger - 155 years later
“On July 9, 1868, Americans changed the U.S. Constitution for the fourteenth time, adapting our foundational document to construct a new nation without systematic Black enslavement.” - Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, July 8, 2023.
“A Washington Post-Ipsos poll released Friday showed that 51 percent of Black respondents said they expect racism will get worse, while 37 percent said they expect it will stay about the same. Only 11 percent said it will get better.” - The Hill, June 17, 2023
“Facing issues related to race in this country is very hard, or perhaps, impossible. But if companies want to build trust, they need to address it.” - Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work
Future of Work / The Economy
“With no commitment to sustainability, there is no coffee.” - Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO, Nespresso
The economy and recession – the prognosis remains mixed
As the U.S. economy continues to stay strong by most measures, opinions on the future remain mixed. A Goldman Sachs Marquee QuickPoll reported on June 14, 2023, asked 900 institutional investors when they expect the next recession. 50% said in the first half of 2024, 17% said the second half of 2023, and 27% said the second half of 2024 or beyond. “Market sentiment is still stuck in “deeply bearish” levels, with the latest survey indicating that 59% of respondents view themselves as bearish compared with 25% who say they are bullish.” A July 13, 2023, story in Fortune found that 43% of CEOs expect their firm’s growth to be strong or very strong in the coming 12 months. Thirty-eight percent have a pessimistic or very pessimistic outlook of the global economy, down from 76% in October 2022. 57% expect inflation to disrupt their businesses over the next 12 months. J.P. Morgan’s July 17, 2023, Midyear Business Leader Outlook says, “optimism is up, but still far from upbeat.” Twenty-nine percent have a positive outlook about the U.S. economy today, up from 22% in January. Only 15% are optimistic about the global economy, up from 8%. Forty-five percent expect an economic downturn this year or believe we are already in one.
Millennial and Gen Z employees want meaningful work
A July 6, 2023, story in Fortune reports on the annual Deloitte Global GenZ and Millennial Survey results. A consistent theme emerged: “young employees want their employers’ values to be aligned with their own–and they want to drive societal change through purposeful and meaningful work … Gen Zers and Millennials want to take part in driving change through their individual work–and they are more likely to stay in their current organization when they feel empowered to do so.” Another July 6, 2023, Fortune story reports Gen Z and Millennials “are dumping their wealthier friends because they’re afraid of lifestyle creep.” Less affluent younger people find it easier to cut off friendships with their wealthier friends rather than spend the money or go into debt to keep up with them.
McKinsey report analyzes declines in post pandemic city activity
With the global average of office work having stabilized at 3.5 days in the office, McKinsey has published a July 13, 2023, report on the pandemic’s lasting impact on real estate. Some highlights include:
Hybrid work is here to stay. Office attendance has stabilized at 30% below pre-pandemic norms.
The ripple effects of hybrid work are substantial. Residents have left urban cores and shifted their shopping elsewhere. New York City’s urban core lost 5 percent of its population from mid-2020 to mid-2022, and San Francisco’s lost 6 percent. Urban vacancy rates have shot up. Foot traffic near stores in metropolitan areas remains 10 to 20 percent below pre-pandemic levels.
Demand for office and retail space in superstar cities will remain below pre-pandemic levels. In a moderate scenario, demand for office space is 13 percent lower in 2030 than it was in 2019 for the median city in our study. In a severe scenario, demand falls by 38 percent in the most heavily affected city.
Real estate is local, and demand will vary substantially by neighborhood and city. Demand may be lower in neighborhoods and cities characterized by dense office space, expensive housing, and large employers in the knowledge economy.
Cities and buildings can adapt and thrive by taking hybrid approaches themselves. Priorities might include developing mixed-use neighborhoods, constructing more adaptable buildings, and designing multi-use office and retail space.
PepsiCo must have changed its mind
“PepsiCo said on Thursday it will not raise prices of its sodas and snacks further after multiple rounds of price hikes last year helped the beverage giant post fourth-quarter profit and revenue ahead of analysts' estimates.” - Reuters, February 9, 2023.
“On Thursday, the PepsiCo reported that for the first three months through June, it raised prices another 15%, reflecting consumers continuing ability to absorb higher prices and companies' willingness to exploit it.” - San Diego Union -Tribune, July 16, 2023
Cognitive decline linked to dental hygiene
A Japanese study of 172 people over four years found “a connection between tooth loss, gum disease, and shrinkage in a region of the brain involved in memory and Alzheimer's disease called the hippocampus.” According to the July 9, 2023, story in Science Alert, “the findings don't establish causation; rather, they demonstrate an association between these factors.”
U.S. is not alone in experiencing health-threatening extended heat waves
While the news has been flooded with stories about heat warnings in the South and the West, the U.S. is not alone in experiencing these health-threatening events. On July 15, 2023, the BBC reported that Italy had issued Red Alerts in 16 cities due to extended heat waves. Greece and much of southern Europe are also experiencing intense heat. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on July 15, 2023, Japan and Morocco are also experiencing extreme heat while ”relentless monsoon rains” are pounding northern India, killing 90 people.
Ticks physically pulled to hosts by static electricity
A study of ticks in the journal Current Biology found that “the static electric fields naturally produced by animals (including humans) can physically yank the ungainly creatures onto their hosts. According to a June 30, 2023, story in the New York Times, “by electrically extending their reach, ticks may be able to grab hold of hosts more easily.” Ticks spread a variety of harmful diseases.
The Nett Light-Side
Whale-watching captain picks lice off gray whale
A video posted in Science Alert on July 8, 2023, shows a Mexican whale-watching captain picking lice off the skin of a gray whale in the Ojo de Liebre, a lagoon on the Pacific coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula. The whale repeatedly returns to the side of the boat to obtain the captain’s help.
California sea otter is literally stealing surfboards
A 5-year-old sea otter raised at Monterey Bay Aquarium and then released has accosted surfers, seizing and even damaging their surfboards in the process. According to a New York Times story on July 12, 2023,” a team from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Monterey Bay Aquarium trained in the capture and handling of sea otters has been deployed to attempt to capture and rehome her.” An NBC News story on July 13, 2023, provides a video of the problem.
Roman structure longevity credited to self-sealing concrete
Another story in Science Alert, this one on July 16, 2023, reported that the longevity of Roman structures, including the Pantheon, is due to a special concrete with chunks of lime (known as lime clasts) that give it “remarkable self-healing abilities.” When cracks form in the concrete, “they preferentially travel to the lime clasts, which have a higher surface area than other particles in the matrix. When water gets into the crack, it reacts with the lime to form a solution rich in calcium that dries and hardens as calcium carbonate, gluing the crack back together and preventing it from spreading further.”
Thought experiment asks if our species will leave a trace
A July 10, 2023, story in Nautilus reports on a paper in the International Journal of Astrobiology asks, “if it would be possible to detect an industrial civilization in the geological record?” The authors say that “geological processes such as tectonic plate subduction and glaciation could easily erase evidence of ancient urbanization … a species as short-lived as Homo sapiens (so far) might not be represented in the existing fossil record at all.” Because less than 1 percent of the Earth’s surface is urbanized, it is ”a tiny proportion that hardly stands a chance of being re-exposed millions of years in the future. Unless humans continue to live on Earth for millions of years, our tenure on this planet might be far too brief to leave any trace.”
About Carl Nettleton
Carl Nettleton is an award-winning writer, speaker, thought partner, facilitator, and subject-matter expert regarding water, climate, sustainability, the ocean, and binational U.S.-Mexico border affairs. Nettleton Strategies, the consultancy he founded in 2007, is a trusted source of analysis and advice on issues at the forefront of public policy, business, and the environment. He helps people to think strategically about their options for change. He is also the founder of OpenOceans Global, a nonprofit addressing ocean plastic in a new way.
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